Between the internet masses and your personal network lies new online experience network, TurtleWise.
“We call ourselves the match.com of advice sites,” says Founder & CEO Kevin Walker.
Touting “Better lives through better decisions,” TurtleWise matches gurus – those doling out advice – and explorers – those seeking expertise or advice – on a variety of topics.
Walker recalls his journey to TurtleWise and some of the insights he received during his career that included time in the military and at the head of AEP. Some of the best advice came from people outside his immediate network.
In today’s landscape Walker sees two places where people typically turn for advice – their networks or the abyss of the internet. While personal connections are valuable, sometimes a person’s skill set outpaces their network’s expertise, or an individual may be in a situation where they don’t feel comfortable sharing. The internet can be a resource for inconsequential decisions, but for more substantial advice, “Then it’s important to have a trusted group of people that you think have the experience and motivation to really help you and that’s what TurtleWise really does,” Walker says.
Gurus fill out a profile about their areas of expertise which allows explorers to filter down to their ideal advisor. Advice seekers have the power to customize who answers their question, even getting as specific as something like a 25-30 year-old female in Columbus who went to OSU and works in healthcare.
“By defining who your ultimate advisor is, it gives you a far better chance of getting real, actionable advice,” says Co-Founder & CSO Chris Hone.
As far as determining if the gurus really have expertise in their area, “All of the advice that’s given is rated by the people receiving it,” Walker says.
Those ratings show up on a guru’s profile, so the system should naturally weed out people giving bad advice or those that don’t really have expertise in their claimed area.
TurtleWise chose six areas of expertise to get the ball rolling – education, career management, politics, lifestyle & family, military, entrepreneurship – pre-populating the platform with people in their networks. As more people join and build the network, the founders expect to run the gamut of gurus and explorers.
Walker says they are seeing a lot of political questions, as well as things like ‘What alumni group should I join?’ ‘Should I mentor a young employee?’ and ‘How do you deal with insomnia?’
“We want people to use the system and be engaged and ask good questions, but we also want it to be fun,” Hone says.
TurtleWise adds an element of gamification, allowing users to earn TurtleBucks. Those points can then be cashed out in the form of Amazon gift cards or the same cash value donated to one of the business’ partner charities.
TurtleWise announced its launch at South by Southwest in March, and partnered with local agency ContentVia to handle marketing. Splitting time between Columbus and New York, Walker asked for referrals to local agencies, and was directed to what he calls a “perfect partner” in ContentVia.
The platform took a conservative approach to its growth after launch, but thus far is exceeding expectations. Walker shares that in their first month, TurtleWise forecasted 200 users, but surpassed 320. That number grew to 520 in April, surpassing their goal of 400. He also recalls the first time they got a question from someone that they didn’t know. It was the ‘a-ha!’ moment that the platform was becoming meaningful for others.
Up next, TurtleWise plans to integrate a chat platform to further foster discussions between gurus and explorers.
“Now you can really pick their brain,” Hone says. “That’s important because that really allows you to get they ‘why’ behind the answer.”
The founders see ways to take what starts on TurtleWise and turn it into online and offline ways to continue to help people make better decisions. Hone says bloggers and subject matter experts can refer back to their posts that might answer questions posed on the platform.
“We don’t want this to be just within the confines of TurtleWise,” he says.
Walker welcomes those sustained mentoring relationships, hoping that by giving good advice and chatting, individuals take that relationship offline.
To learn more, visit turtlewise.net.